Late last year I had the chance to test out a production prototype of the upcoming Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic UTV. It was an eye-opening experience that taught me just how powerful and yet simultaneously easy to control the electric UTV was. Now that production of that game-changing vehicle is underway, I’ve gone back to visit the factory floor as well as get another test ride, this time in a production vehicle.
I don’t use the term “game-changing” lightly here. The all-electric RANGER XP Kinetic is truly set to revolutionize the UTV market.
The Polaris engineers will be the first to tell you that it isn’t just the best electric UTV out there, it’s the best RANGER that Polaris has ever made, combustion or electric. As the team explained, they didn’t want to just build an EV for the sake of an EV. They wanted to actually build something better. And by all accounts, they’ve done it.
Thanks to the inclusion of an electric drivetrain from Zero Motorcycles, the XP Kinetic is more powerful, more torquey, and easier to control than any other RANGER that Polaris has ever built.
It also happens to be quieter, smoother, more comfortable, and cheaper to operate.
Don’t believe me? Check out my video below where I tested out the vehicles and toured the Alabama factory.
Production and shipments of the new Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic began in April, after the Huntsville, Alabama Polaris factory added the new electric UTV into its sprawling assembly plant.
Sprawling is the right way to describe it. I brought a drone and could still barely capture the whole thing in just one frame. Touring the inside showed me why; they do just about everything under one massive roof.
The northern Alabama facility, which is divided into a number of sections, can take in bare steel tubes at one end and crank out the most powerful UTVs on the planet at the other end.
They run many production lines in parallel and even send multiple types of vehicles down the same assembly lines. It’s a finely tuned machine with robotic vehicle lifts ferrying chassis down the line while workers drive electric warehouse tractors towing trailers full of components along carefully painted routes along the floor.
The same lifts that hoist engines into the other Polaris vehicles on the line now softly place giant electric motorcycle batteries into RANGER XP Kinetic chassis as they continue through the carefully choreographed assembly dance.
I wasn’t actually allowed to photograph inside the plant due to the multitude of trade secrets that are wandering around, but I was given the sterilized photographs you see here, which show us just as much as Polaris wants to let out.
The Polaris team also wasn’t sharing exact production numbers, but from the rate that things were moving in the hour or so I spent on the floor, it seems like each day there are many electric RANGERS rolling off the line, through vehicle testing and out the door for delivery.
And one of those vehicles hosted me for the afternoon as I had the pleasure of sliding it in every direction I could across the Polaris test track on site.
With miles and miles of dirt to run on, split fairly evenly between open fields and tight forested trails, there was plenty of ground to cover.
I was able to test the production version of the RANGER XP Kinetic on loose red soil, rocky sections, log piles, wet grass, and more. The wet grass wasn’t intentional, I was simply having so much fun that I would occasionally wander off of the trail a bit. But since I managed to avoid hitting any trees (other than the several felled trees I drove up and over), I call it a success.
The UTV is of course a work vehicle, first and foremost. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t also a blast to drive!
The amount of power at your command is impressive, but what is even more jaw-dropping is just how quickly you can drop that hammer. With electric motors, the torque comes on instantaneously. Not quickly, mind you. Instantaneously.
That results in some seriously fun power off the line. And when amusement isn’t your only goal, that also translates into serious towing and hauling performance.
It feels like the kind of vehicle that you can ride fences with all day, haul whatever gear you need throughout the week, and then have some serious fun with on the weekends.
But perhaps most important is the RANGER XP Kinetic’s effect on owners’ wallets. Sure, it’s expensive to purchase. The starting price window from US $25k – $30k depending on if you want the big (14.9 kWh) or bigger (29.8 kWh) battery. That’s not cheap. But then again, the Polaris XP 1000 starts at north of US $20k, and that model’s combustion engine means that it has a lot more maintenance and upkeep charges compared to its new electric brother.
The comparison is interesting, since something like 95% of the accessories are the same, meaning you’re really getting the best of the RANGER line, just now with more power and precision thanks to that electric drivetrain.
That means the all-electric RANGER has fewer maintenance concerns, lower operating costs, no need to keep jerry cans of fuel around, and an overall nicer working atmosphere.
The vehicle isn’t vibrating while operating (or even idling). It’s not spewing a cloud of exhaust. It’s not scaring livestock on the farm or wild animals when out in nature. The entire experience has major advantages everywhere you look.
And now that the company is (finally) delivering the long awaited all-electric RANGER XP Kinetic, more and more operators are going to start experiencing those advantages. I’ve felt them first hand, and so I know what those owners are in for. I’m not sure I’ll ever have a place for one in my 800 square foot apartment, but perhaps I can convince my parents that their ranch sure could use one.
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